Message from a Woman, On Location, In the Workplace*

* Not really. I’m on the sofa at home.

“Women in the workplace” is a strange name for select committee inquiry, isn’t it? Hinting at novelty, it somehow suggests that “the workplace” is a strange place for women to be and that if there’s a problem to be explored, it’s to do with the presence of women, not with gender inequality nor discrimination itself.* Just women, being there. That’s the whole issue. Without them, “the workplace” would be simply “the workplace”. It’s not as though this has anything at all to do with men.

I guess it’s an attempt at something that sounds unbiased. Yet thus far, the inquiry seems far from neutral. If this is genuinely an attempt to answer questions regarding gender stereotyping, pay inequality and increasing opportunities for part-time workers, the choice of speakers for yesterday’s first evidence session was unsettling, to say the least. These included Steve Moxon, author of The Woman Racket and Mike Buchanan, Chief Exec of the Campaign for Merit in Business (a man who lives and dies by the merit in business sword:  “I confidently anticipate I’ll keep losing money with my campaigning efforts. I cannot see how it could possibly be otherwise”. Alan Sugar would be proud). No wonder men’s rights’ activitists have been rubbing their hands with glee:

It shows that responsible and mature campaigning for male equality and against male discrimination is starting to work. […] With organisations and campaigners like Mike and Swayne O’Pie (who also put in a submission) with academics like Catherine Hakim and Steve Moxon willing to put their head above the parapet but also campaign and lobby with the right positive tone and approach, these issues are no longer totally being ignored and going unchallenged.

Way-hey! Responsible, mature and not derailing in the slightest.

I don’t wish to be rude, but it would appear to me that not all of these people are experts in the issues that are supposed to be the focus of this inquiry. And of course neither am I. I haven’t done extensive research into the nature of gender stereotyping, hidden sexism and overt discrimination in the workplace. I haven’t explored the broad range of problems caused by the pressure of domestic work combined with paid work, nor have I looked into or piloted solutions. I haven’t talked to women who’ve wanted to progress about the things that have held them back, nor have I analysed the ways in which expectations of male labour have or haven’t changed in line with changing expectations of women. I haven’t looked at ways of altering how we reward particular types of work or challenged the belief that domestic labour has no economic value. I haven’t done any of these things, but some people have – and these people do not include pretend academic and UKIP-reject Steve Moxon.

So what, then, is going on? A representative for the inquiry told the Huffington Post: “We’re conducting an evidence based inquiry”:

We want there to be absolutely no suggestion that we haven’t taken into account a broad range of views.

So obviously, the next set of speakers will include a pretend academic who thinks men are broadly unfit to operate at the highest levels of business and he/she will demonstrate this with a series of made-up arguments. Just for the sake of balance, you understand. Unless of course Moxon’s good fortune in getting in there first has already changed the terms of the debate and now it’s all about whether women are fit to be making authoritative decisions at all. In which case, perhaps the whole “women in the workplace” debate should go back to first base and start with men debating whether or not women should even be in the workplace (apart from for the usual stuff – cleaning, typing, cooking, nursing, all that stuff they were doing before they actually “started working” – oh, and bringing cups of tea to the men while they discuss whether women should be able to join in with any discussions at some point in the distant future. Except they probably won’t want to *mutters something vague about hard-wiring*).

On the bright side, the deadline for written submissions to the Women in the Workplace Inquiry has been extended. So basically – again, in the interests of balance – I think anyone reading this should submit something. Even if you’re a woman and can’t normally be arsed to do “thinky” stuff. Look, Swayne O’Pie’s done it! We can easily cancel out one Swayne O’Pie, if nothing else.

It strikes me that people who don’t like women much are motivated – very motivated. I don’t think it’s hard-wiring – my personal view, supported by “the latest in evolutionary psychology” [no reference], is that the not-liking is just extremely powerful. Thinking that women are decent, capable human beings is generally a much more passive, peaceable way to be. But this ought to make us a bit cross. And hell, experts or not, we should say so.

* It also implies that the home is not a “workplace” – but then, for most of our MPs, I suppose it isn’t.


9 thoughts on “Message from a Woman, On Location, In the Workplace*

  1. Glosswatch, good evening, and thank you for this exposure. A number of thoughts:

    You write: “Women in the workplace” is a strange name for select committee inquiry, isn’t it? Hinting at novelty, it somehow suggests that “the workplace” is a strange place for women to be and that if there’s a problem to be explored, it’s to do with the presence of women, not with gender inequality nor discrimination itself.

    You might like to know that the inquiry was instigated by one of the (female) Labour MPs on the BIS select committee, and I very much doubt that the name given to the inquiry wouldn’t have had her prior approval. It’s a very straightforward and ‘plain English’ description of the scope of the inquiry, whose remit is very clearly to advance women in the workplace at the expense of men.

    Good to see you’re following I’m sure the blog will welcome your publicity, as will Steve Moxon, author of the excellent ‘The Woman Racket’, and Swayne O’Pie, author of ‘Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism’.

    You’ll hopefuly be reassured to learn that after yesterday’s meeting, every person who’ll be giving oral evidence to the select committee (at least all those identified so far) will be mindlessly spouting feminist perspectives on women in the workplace.

    Our written evidence to the select comittee included four of the longitudinal studies showing that ‘improving’ gender diversity on boards leads to declines in corporate performance. At the inquiry we gave the MPs handouts including details of a fifth study on the matter:

    Finally, your shaming tactic of portraying us as ‘people who don’t like women’ is not only factually incorrect, it’s also very tired. Charges of misogyny and sexism have been used to stifle debate on gender-related matters for 30+ years, but they’re no longer working. You need to find a new weapon to silence anti-feminists, because your only weapon has been to make men ashamed of their gender. The idea of gender-wide shame is absurd. Would you say that when a woman commits a wrong, women collectively should be ashamed of their gender? I think not. As a gender, men have a damned sight more to be proud about than ashamed about.

    So what do you do when your only weapon ceases to be effective? I think you have a major problem on your hands, and I look forward to seeing how you’re going to deal with it. I live and breathe this stuff 24/7/365, and I honestly can’t see how you can POSSIBLY deal with it. We’re calling your bluff. What else have you got?

    Have a nice day.

    Mike Buchanan


    1. Hello again Mike! I don’t really have the time to list all the ways in which feminist debate has been about more than “shaming men about their gender” – I’ve got to put the kids to bed now I’m back from work, where I’ve been egging on my female colleagues to lead forth the decline in corporate performance – but would definitely recommend Delusions of Gender (Fine) and The Myth of Mars and Venus (Cameron – but not THAT Cameron) as good starting points as to why we women mess it up so much (clue: you just think we do…).
      Have a lovely evening

      1. Thanks GW. Cordelia FIne’s book is very weak in comparison with the following:

        Prof Susan Pinker ‘The Sexual Paradox’
        Prof Louann Brizendine ‘The Female Brain’
        Prof Steven Pinker ‘The Blank Slate’
        Prof Simon Baron-Cohen ‘The Essential Difference’

        Mike Buchanan

    2. Funny, my brother doesn’t think feminism is about “shaming men about their gender.” Neither does my father. And, at least, neither did my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather….

      For that matter, neither do my male friends, who are feminists themselves. I don’t think you really understand feminism. Lo siento.

  2. Very interesting blog, thank-you. Your rightly point out that the Parliamentary inquiry in question is still accepting written submissions. This means that the Committee will consider all submissions and is interested in reaction to its panels.

    See the website for details about how to react to sessions:

    You speculate on the witnesses in the next panel (09:30am, Tues 27 Nov), details of which were announced today:

    1. Peter, I see the Fawcett Society is giving evidence next week. Presumably they’ll continue to press for legislated quotas for more women on boards despite the overwhelming evidence that having more women on boards leads to a decline in corporate financial performance. I imagine they’ll present their dodgy analysis of the ‘gender pay gap’ while they’re at it. I thought Catherine Hakim’s comments on the gender pay gap during our session were very insightful.

      Mike Buchanan

      1. I do believe you missed the study which pointed out that the *only* banks which did not fail in the current recession were ones where women made up a significant part of the upper management. While women don’t make the same massive profits as male investment bankers, they also don’t lose the same amount of money than male investment bankers do. In fact, one could argue that the only reason we are in a recession is because there weren’t enough women in upper management in major corporations and banks fixing the mistakes of men.

        Rather, the norm for women really.

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